Children and young people

Published: 26 August 2021

Our role in children and young people’s services

It is our job to make sure that every child and young person experiencing care in Scotland gets the best quality of care that meets their needs and choices and protects their rights. This is whether they live at home with their families, live in a children’s home, are fostered or adopted, stay in secure or school care accommodation or use respite services. We also inspect some services that provide care for families, such as women’s refuges, and housing support services that cater for young people.

Our strategic team assesses how well professionals from different disciplines and agencies work together. This is to make sure that children and young people who need care and protection are kept safe and their needs met. 

We assess how well services and partnerships self-evaluate and learn from adverse events to improve children’s experiences and outcomes.

Information about inspections for young people

Following some feedback we had from young people, we have created posters that explain what inspections are. You can download our poster for residential child care, or our poster for foster care and display this in your service to help young people understand what inspections are and how they can get involved.

Text to complain

Complaints research from 2019 showed that less than one percent of the 1,400 children and young people in residential care settings raised concerns to us about their care.  

To handle complaints well, services need to have a healthy listening culture where people’s concerns are taken seriously and acted upon quickly.

Children and young people can text us directly on 07870 981 785 if they are not happy about their care. You can watch our short video about the text to complain service here, or download a poster to print here. You can also complain by filling in our complaints form online, calling us on 0345 600 9527 or emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Our young inspection volunteers

We work with 15 young inspection volunteers (aged between 18-26 years old) who visit children and young people’s services with us when we inspect.

Our young inspection volunteers talk with children and young people who use services and listen to their views. They meet managers to find out how well they involve children and young people to develop and improve services and they hear how well partnerships are fulfilling their responsibilities and duties as corporate parents.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a young inspection volunteer click here.

Click here to see some of the videos they have done for our joint inspections.

Our quality frameworks

Our quality frameworks support care services to self-evaluate. Our inspectors also use these when they inspect and look at the quality of care provided by services. You can read our frameworks here.

For 2022-23 we have published three new versions of Key Question 7 ‘How well do we support children’s wellbeing?’ which will replace the current Key Question 7 for:

These key questions have been designed to:

  • produce a more proportionate regulatory footprint, affording services space to focus on recovery and development as we transition out of the pandemic
  • prioritise the quality of relationships experienced by children, not the process surrounding their care” as advised by The Promise
  • support engagement with more children and young people, through visiting more services. In our discussions with young people about this revised approach, this was particularly important to them.

Each key question augments its corresponding quality framework.

Care Homes

Secure Services

Mainstream boarding schools

To set out our approach to regulating guardianship arrangements in boarding schools we have published Guidance for the regulation of guardianship arrangements in boarding schools.

Access to interpreters

To better support how we engage with children and young people who have English as a second or foreign language, we have developed this poster for services to display. It’s designed to let young people know that we are happy to book an interpreter to chat with them.

Restrictive practices

  • We understand that the use of restrictive practices in the promotion of rights, independence and choice for children and young people conflicts with promoting and maintaining a duty of care by taking protective action to keep young people safe.
  • We are a member of Restraint Reduction Scotland, and have worked collaboratively with the Scottish Physical Restraint Action Group (SPRAG) to develop a Self-evaluation tool: The use of restrictive practices. It is designed to support services to evaluate how well they are doing in using restrictive practices and identify areas where they want to improve.
  • To support the launch of the self-evaluation tool, we held two webinars; a recording of the webinars combined can be found here.

Children and young people placed cross border on Deprivation of Liberty Orders

In January 2022 we carried out a short thematic review of children and young people placed cross border on Deprivation of Liberty Orders. We spoke to nine of the children face to face, and had a telephone interview with one young person. You can read the report about this here.


In aspiring to make residential care a positive choice for all children in Scotland who require it, and to promote best practice in admissions and matching, we published Matching Looked After Children and Young People: Admissions Guidance for Residential Services.

Care planning

To support staff in services to develop personal plans for children and young people we developed a Guide for providers on personal planning: children and young people. We spoke with young people to gather their views, and included quotes from young people throughout the document.

Records and notification reporting

By law all services must keep certain records, and tell us if particular events take place. You can read our Records that all registered children and young people’s care services must keep and guidance on notification reporting here.


To support providers to ensure they are appropriately assessing and providing staffing levels to meet the needs of young people in their care, we published Guidance for providers on the assessment of staffing levels.

Corporate parenting

As a corporate parent, we carry out many of the roles any parent should.

We work with other corporate parents to promote the wellbeing of all children and young people and keep them safe from harm. We work hard to enable children and young people to have as much of a say as possible.

Read our corporate parenting plan 2021-23.

Stand Up For Siblings

We are a proud member of the Stand Up For Siblings partnership, a Scotland wide initiative to improve and change legislation, policy and practice.  It’s about making sure children and young people live with their brothers and sisters, where it is appropriate to do so, and sustain strong and positive lifelong relationships with them. Read the Staying together and connected: getting it right for sisters and brothers: national practice guidance.

Our young inspection volunteers made a big contribution to this award-winning work and made a film about promoting and supporting sibling relationships for children and young people who experience care. Watch the film here. 

The Promise

We continue to work to deliver our organisation's contribution to keeping The Promise for children and young people. The Promise is about providing more intensive, preventative support to families so they can stay together where it is safe to do so. 

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

We work with the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry to investigate the abuse of children in care in Scotland.

Continuing care

We have been supporting the Staying Put agenda since 2013 and our role as corporate parents under the Children and Young people (Scotland) Act 2014 includes supporting young people moving from care to adulthood and independence.

Read our Continuing Care and the Welfare Assessment: Practice Note.

Continuing Improvement

We have created a video to help you learn how to run your own improvement projects using the Model for Improvement and ‘Plan Do Study Act’ (PDSA) cycles. This will also be helpful to both services and providers when progressing areas for improvement made as a result of inspection.

The video includes specific examples relating to children and young people. 

The Health and Social Care Standards

Under the Health and Social Care Standards, everyone is entitled to high-quality care and support tailored towards their needs and choices. That is why the Standards focus on the experience of people using services and supporting their outcomes.

The Standards apply to the NHS, as well as services registered with the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland. We use the Health and Social Care Standards to make sure services respect and meet people’s rights, needs and choices.

Download your copy of the Standards here

Equality and diversity

We believe that people in Scotland should experience a better quality of life as a result of accessible, excellent services that are designed and delivered to reflect their individual needs and promote their rights.

Our work focuses on people’s rights, choices and individual outcomes, the things that matter most to people. We continue to put equality and diversity at the heart of all we do. That’s why we made equality and diversity a key principle of our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.

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Published: 04 June 2021

Information from the Care Inspectorate for people experiencing care and their carers is available here. We fully expect adult care homes to facilitate visiting by following Scottish Government’s Open with Care guidance

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